The Role of Support Groups in Recovering from Addiction
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Several individuals have asked, “Can the addiction support groups near me help to overcome my dependence?” In recent years, more people realize the usefulness that addiction support groups can have in helping individuals overcome substance dependence. Typically, individuals join support groups for addiction after going through rehab. The support groups are designed to help them remain sober over the long term through peer support and counseling. In the past, there have been many questions as to whether support groups are viable over the long term.
Since addiction can be linked to physical and mental dependence on a substance, dealing with one and not the other leads to recoveries falling back into their old habits. But how do addiction support groups near me help me beat addiction?
The Process of Beating Addiction
As the journal Alcohol Research and Health points out, most medical publications no longer use “addiction” but refer to substance use disorders instead. Beating these disorders comes from the individual that’s trying to overcome their dependence. Overcoming substance use disorder starts with accepting that one has a problem and decides to change. Rehab helps individuals suffering from the condition to detoxify themselves, usually under the supervision of medical personnel in case an emergency happens.
After detoxification, many individuals head to inpatient treatment to spend time getting over their physical addiction and dealing with a few of the mental triggers that might push them back into using.
Once someone has completed inpatient treatment, their next step is outpatient treatment. At this stage, the person can get and keep a job and start reconnecting to others socially, although they will need to remain vigilant to avoid falling into the same trap they did before. Support groups for addiction provide human interaction with a peer group and a moderator that help to keep the person focused on their recovery.
These support groups play a crucial role in helping these people regain their confidence in social situations. In the case of some substances, such as alcohol, the loss might lead to feelings of inadequacy. Group therapy can have an instrumental effect on helping the person restore their self-confidence without the substance.
How Support Groups for Addiction Can Help
If you’re asking, “How can an addiction support group near me help me kick the habit?” chances are you’re not sure how they work. Support groups are a critical part of many health treatments, including substance use disorder treatment. The support groups for addiction usually meet under a leader who may be a trained counselor or just a recovered member of the community. Even for the other members, being a part of the group can significantly benefit their sobriety. Greater Good Magazine from Berkeley notes that helping others can also reflect on a person and help them remain sober.
Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception that support groups can replace therapy. Therapy with a qualified professional may be necessary in some extreme cases. For those who need support groups, several options are available to them:
- Online support groups: With the advent of social distancing, some support groups have started relying on online forums for discussion and communication, allowing members to keep in touch at all times.
- Mutual support groups for friends or family: In many cases, the friends and family of someone undergoing substance use disorder treatment may need emotional support from others who have faced the same thing.
- Outpatient support groups: The most common support groups are outpatient groups that are attached to a specific rehab center or an inpatient facility.
- 12-step programs: These programs usually pertain to a specific type of addiction and meet up once a week in particular locations to tell stories about their struggles and receive emotional support from peers.
The Advantages of Group Support
Human beings are social animals. We don’t do well in isolation, and it’s doubly true when we’re trying to recover from an addiction. Group treatment offers some significant benefits to those seeking to leave their substance dependence behind, including:
- Positive Peer Support: Group support therapy is a commitment that forces someone to establish a schedule to attend. This dedication puts a bit of order into the person’s life and extracts a promise to participate in every session. Peer support and pressure for abstinence can be strong and keep a person focused on their recovery.
- Less Isolation: it’s well noted that people recovering from substance use disorder feel isolated. At the start of their treatment, within a rehab center, the isolation can be pretty intense. When they leave and return to regular life, they may feel distant from society, based on what they’ve gone through; support groups can help by giving them a chance to feel connected to others who have gone through the same as them.
- Being Inspired by Others: having role models within the peer group can encourage recoverees to stay the course. In many cases, the urge to start using again can be overwhelming. Outside of a peer support group, the hopelessness of constantly having to fight for control might be too much. Seeing others leave dependence behind can help to motivate and encourage them to keep coming to the group.
- A Source of Firsthand Information: At its heart, support groups are designed to give others information based on their experiences. While there are many places on the internet that people might get data and hard facts, the personal experiences of an individual you can speak to directly carries a different sort of weight. This firsthand information can be priceless in helping others prepare for staying away from a substance over the long term.
- Feedback Through Discussion: Group support stems from understanding and dissecting situations that people find themselves in. Having others who have similar personal experiences can help someone feel more a part of a group instead of being on their own. This feeling of community and acceptance goes a long way towards assisting them to recover.
- Feels like Family: For many recovering individuals, family is a touchy subject. While some have families that love and understand their situation, others may have broken family lives or come from dysfunctional units. The support of a family is unique, but a support group can offer something similar through their shared experiences. While it’s not a family in the strictest sense of the word, the community and camaraderie can be just what a recovering person needs to motivate them to stick it out.
- A Deeper Bond with Others: Even outside of the support group, members interact with each other and form strong friendships. The shared trauma of having to go through rehab and getting their lives in order can lead to lifelong friendships. Sometimes, these friendships are the first the recoverees have after they came out of rehab. Some groups disallow outside contacts, but some encourage it because it can lead to those positive outcomes.
The Major Group Types Used in Addiction Support
There are two significant types of support groups that show up most often when discussing substance abuse disorder. These are:
- The Twelve-Step Programs: These programs use a sponsorship-type buddy system. These programs usually rely on those that have succeeded in overcoming addiction to help those who come after them. This mentorship has its benefits since it allows the recovering person to see that recovery is possible.
Sponsors or mentors in these programs have to demonstrate a certain amount of months or years sober before being accepted to lead others out of substance dependence. However, several of these twelve-step programs have a heavy religious focus, which might not be acceptable for some.
- Non-Religious Options: For individuals that don’t want to deal with the religious part of a twelve-step program, several options don’t rely on a spiritual focus. Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) uses a four-step process to help its members recover. These are:
- Find and maintain your motivation
- Manage your urges
- Deal with emotions, thoughts, and behaviors
- Locate a balance in your life
In addition to SMART, there are other options such as Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) and Rational Recovery. Both of these deal with helping their members overcome their substance dependence by approaching the problem logically and rationalizing why they don’t need it.
Finding a Group for You
If you’ve asked yourself, “Can addiction support groups near me help me quit?” the answer is a resounding yes, once you find the right group. There are a few things you should find out before deciding to join a group, such as:
- Is this group focused on a particular type of addiction?
- Is this group ongoing, or does it end after achieving a certain level of independence?
- How often does the group meet?
- Is it a group where personal information is safe?
- Is the meeting free to attend, or are there fees to be paid?
Locating a group can be an upward battle for some people. If you’ve asked yourself, “Are there any addiction groups near me that I should be looking out for?” you’ve probably missed them. Many of these groups don’t advertise openly, and you may need to do some research to figure out which group is closest to you and their requirements. Find Addiction Rehabs can help. Contact us today, and let’s help you find an addiction center that can help near you.
Edward lives and works in South Florida and has been a part of its recovery community for many years. With a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts, he works to help Find Addiction Rehabs as both a writer and marketer. Edward loves to share his passion for the field through writing about addiction topics, effective treatment for addiction, and behavioral health as a whole. Alongside personal experience, Edward has deep connections to the mental health treatment industry, having worked as a medical office manager for a psychiatric consortium for many years.